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U.S. Coast Guard’s Mighty Cutter Braves Harsh Seas in Intense Battle

If you think that chilling onboard a superyacht as the new year rolls in is a grand experience, you should see what it’s like onboard a military ship. Not for the faint of heart, sailing to the Arctic onboard a ship like the USCG Stratton seems to resemble the adventures of the first explorers.

The Arctic is no longer an unreachable destination for folks who aren’t skilled adventurers. The development of so-called “pocket explorers” has seen tremendous growth over the past years, giving people who can afford it the chance to travel onboard their own rugged vessel, capable of reaching some of the most remote destinations.

On the other hand, cruise and charter trips to this unique location have also evolved in terms of number and services. Some lucky passengers got to experience a world-first yachting adventure, as the iconic Octopus traveled to Antarctica for the first time as a charter yacht, at the end of last year.

Military ships also make their way to this part of the world frequently, such as the famous HMS Protector, the UK Royal Navy’s ice patrol ship.

Rugged, and equipped with supplies, they are ready to face the challenges of such a trip. The U.S. Coast Guard’s imposing Stratton had to deal with some pretty rough seas off the Pacific Northwest, as it recently made its way to the Arctic. Images shared by the Coast Guard show the cutter fighting off the natural “enemy” that seems to almost engulf it. Apparently, the sea spray even got as high as the vessel’s 150-foot-tall (45.7 meters) mast.

“It looks kind of fun!” was one of the reactions on social media, while several former sailors recalled the times when they experienced similarly difficult voyages, without the help of the technology that’s available today.

Officially named USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752) this vessel is special because it’s the first “white-hull” cutter to be named after a woman, since the 1980s. The last one to boast this special feature was the USCG Harriet Lane, launched in 1984. And that’s not all. Stratton was sponsored by Michelle Obama, who also became the first and only First Lady to sponsor a U.S. Coast Guard cutter.

Christened by Michelle Obama in 2010, Stratton was officially commissioned a little over a decade ago, in 2012. It’s the third ship in the Legend class of cutters operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.

These open-ocean patrol cutters are packed with state-of-the-art features, including modern communication systems, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities, and automated weapon systems that can be used when dealing with rogue vessels. Cruising at a top speed of 28 knots (32 mph/52 kph) these rugged cutters can handle up to 90-day patrol cycles.